Over the last few months, there has been a lot of talk about Xena: Warrior Princess returning to our TV screens, and recently we learned that a Lost producer will be penning the pilot script. Between this news and the fact that 2015 marked 20 years since Xena premiered, it seemed like the perfect time to revisit the classic series and the episodes you should not miss if you want to get a taste of the original before whatever new incarnation of the show comes to television.
While it was hard for me to choose from the more than 100 episodes that aired over the course of six seasons, here are my picks for the 15 must-watch episodes of the series!
What episodes would make your must-watch list? Tell us about your top Xena episodes in the comments below!
"Prometheus" (Season 1)
If you know your mythology, you’ll have a good idea about what this episode touches on. In this episode, Xena and Gabrielle have to free Prometheus before his gifts to man are lost. Along the way, they meet Hercules and Iolaus, and we discover that whoever breaks Prometheus' chains has to pay the ultimate price. This episode solidifies Xena’s place in the mythological world of Hercules for anyone who might not have seen her appearances on the other show, while at the same time showing how different the two heroes really are. A crossover episode might not be the most original, but this one does a good job of bringing the two series together and taking advantage of the twist on ancient Greece that serves as the setting for the show with this take on a classic myth.
"Here She Comes…Miss Amphipolis" (Season 2)
An episode about a beauty pageant could easily have gone off the deep end, but this series makes it work in a way that turns it into one of the classics. As Salmoneus throws the pageant, Xena and Gabrielle go undercover to find out who is trying to sabotage the event and start a war. Xena’s actions encourage the final contestants to stand up for what they really want without the need for the contest and the charming Miss Artiphys becomes Miss Known World. It successfully balances these revelations with the humor that has to be included in an episode where the warrior princess is in a pageant!
"Remember Nothing" (Season 2)
Here we see Xena get a second chance as the Fates let her go back to a time where she’s no longer a warrior and her brother is alive. She can live a life of peace as long as she does not draw blood, but what exactly is she willing to sacrifice in order to have that life? It’s an interesting question that makes this episode stand out. Xena may receive the peaceful life she’s been wishing she led, but her mother is dead, Gabrielle is a slave, and not being able to draw blood means it’s hard for her to protect those she loves or help anyone in need. Her decision in the end shows us that though Xena regrets her violent past, she can’t give up her recently discovered path to help others.
"Amphipolis Under Siege" (Season 5)
Xena’s home is once again at risk as she returns to Amphipolis to introduce her mother to Eve. The community comes together to help protect Xena’s daughter from Athena and her forces as Ares offers Xena a way out. This is an action-packed episode that finally introduces the well-known goddess to the show and gives us a better look at what the gods are thinking. It also shows the cunning of Xena and Gabrielle as we discover what they’ve been planning all along. Add to that how it’s always great to see Ares and Xena banter and play their usual game, and you can’t miss it!
"A Day in the Life" (Season 2)
This lighter episode gives viewers a glimpse into the daily life of Xena and Gabrielle as they travel and have adventures. It’s a humorous episode that teeters on the edge of ridiculous at moments, but never completely crosses the line as it keeps you laughing. From discussions of why everyone falls in love with Xena to what happens when they pause for a bathroom break to the trials of catching something to eat, it’s a great focus on what else goes on during one of their adventures, in addition to all the fighting and saving the day, that we don’t regularly see on screen!
"The Debt" (Season 3)
Introducing the land known as Chin to the series, this two-part episode sees Xena return there to try and kill the Green Dragon. As we learn about Xena’s past in Chin, Gabrielle interferes in an effort to keep her friend from killing, but the act actually puts Xena’s own life in danger. It’s an interesting episode that gives us a look once again at the events that led up to Xena’s current lifestyle as she tries to repay an old debt.
"A Necessary Evil" (Season 2)
It’s hard to choose which of the episodes featuring the wondrously evil Callisto to include on this list, but this episode in Season 2 definitely makes the cut. When Velasca becomes immortal, Xena and Gabrielle need to enlist the help of another immortal to stop her. Enter Callisto, who forms an uneasy alliance with the pair. This especially puts Gabrielle to the test as Callisto toys with them. In the end they’re able to dispose of both Callisto and Velasca, but it’s clear Callisto’s influence and harmful deeds will continue to impact our traveling duo.
"Sacrifice" (Season 3)
Speaking of Callisto, this two-parter sees her return once more as she at first causes trouble for our heroes before ending up on the same side as them! Gabrielle and Xena fail to prevent the return of Gabrielle’s daughter, Hope, who tries to revive the evil Dahak. This causes Xena, Gabrielle, Callisto, and Joxer to come together and try to stop her. In the end, the only way to stop Hope is for one of our heroes to give up their life in a devastating season finale!
"The Ides of March" (Season 4)
This exciting episode offers a Xena twist to the familiar tale of Roman Emperor Julius Caesar’s demise. Callisto plays a role in bringing Xena to Rome as Caesar prepares to make himself Emperor. It all leads to Caesar’s fall and a touching heart to heart between Xena and Gabrielle before they meet their ends as Xena’s vision comes true and the two are crucified.
"The Quest" (Season 2)
In this episode, Gabrielle continues to mourn Xena’s death and is approached by the Amazons. They want to give Xena a traditional funeral and some also want to make Gabrielle their Queen. As Gabrielle deals with Amazon politics and whether to bring Xena’s body to Amphipolis, we learn that Xena can still survive if she can get her body and Ambrosia. Xena enlists the help of Autolycus and hilariously shares his body as she sets out on this quest, leading to a fun, action filled episode not to be missed!
"The Bitter Suite" (Season 3)
Musical episodes can be amazing or utter disasters. Thankfully this episode is far from a disaster! Xena and Gabrielle are at odds after the death of their children, but have to work together when they end up in the musical land of Illusia. The songs are a great fit for the story and what are characters are going to, and are performed quite well. The episode even has its own CD!
"When Fates Collide" (Season 6)
Caesar is back causing trouble in this episode, using the Fates’ loom to change history so he is Rome’s Emperor and Xena is his Empress. Caesar’s plan is put in jeopardy, however, when Gabrielle the playwright turns up. Xena and Gabrielle are drawn to each other, unable to resist even if they don’t remember their former life. As our characters start to recall the other timeline, we get a thrilling episode that leads once again to Caesar’s death and Gabrielle setting things right. This story is a great reminder of how nothing can keep our two heroes apart!
"Maternal Instincts" (Season 3)
This heart-wrenching episode leaves our two heroes broken by the end. Here, Xena reunites with her son, Solan, as Gabrielle meets her daughter, Hope. Hope, however, is working with Callisto and the two cause trouble for the centaurs. Callisto and Hope’s evil plan results in the death of Xena’s son and, by the end, Gabrielle must end Hope’s life herself. With the pair losing their children and the reasons why hanging between them, this episode takes us on an emotional rollercoaster that leaves us wondering what will happen next as the close bond between the two seems to be shattered.
"Callisto" (Season 1)
The very first episode focusing on Callisto is perhaps the best, because it was the first time we saw her shocking ruthlessness and discovered that Xena’s actions set her on that path. Xena and Gabrielle look for Callisto when they learn she’s been trying to ruin Xena’s name by attacking villages and claiming to be the warrior princess. In the end, Xena lets Callisto live, leaving the door open for her return. Her introduction really brings home how terrible Xena once was and offers an example of the sad, horrible consequences her past actions had.
"A Friend in Need" (Season 6)
The two-part series finale of Xena: Warrior Princess is far from everyone’s favorite episode, but it is a must-watch nonetheless. Here, Xena and Gabrielle travel to Japan in order to stop a ghost with connections to Xena’s past. The warrior princess must die in order to defeat him and stay dead in order to save the souls that were lost. The moments between Xena and Gabrielle are even more emotional since we know this is the last time we’ll see them together. While seeing our heroes parted and Gabrielle continuing on her own was a sad way to say goodbye, there is also something fitting about this being the end to the warrior princess’ journey. Even if you dislike this conclusion, it is certainly an ultimate must-watch episode before checking out any reboot of the franchise!